Gen 1 and Concordism

From: Peter Ruest (
Date: Wed Feb 20 2002 - 11:16:27 EST

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    Hi Dick, you wrote (Tue, 19 Feb 2002 00:17:22 -0500):

    > Paul Seely wrote:
    > >Assuming Gen 1 is written from the point of view of a person on earth, Gen
    > >1:1-5 specifies that there was no differentiation between Day and Night, no
    > >Light alternating with Darkness, that could be discerned by a person on earth
    > >until Day 1. So, in Gen 1:2, when an ocean covers the earth, dated c. 3.5 to
    > >4.0 billion years ago, it was totally dark on the earth. This is c.
    > >500,000,000 years after sunlight appears. From what I have read, by that time
    > >(after the earth cooled enough to have an ocean) the earth was no longer in
    > >total darkness. However, astrophysics-geology is not my field and I would
    > >like to be corrected if I am wrong about that. If there is reason to believe
    > >that the earth was still shrouded in total darkness when the first ocean
    > >appeared on earth, I will concede that the concordist interpretation fits the
    > >facts of natural science up to v. 5.
    > >So, do you have some documentation to sustain your position? Or, Howard or
    > >some other person in the respective field, can you (I had to say it)
    > >enlighten us?
    > ASAer John Wiester knows this stuff. Could somebody ask him to contribute
    > on this point?

    I'm not John Wiester, but last Sunday I sent an e-mail to someone who
    asked me about the appearance of light, and whether science accepts the
    concepts of a cloud cover over a global ocean preventing light
    penetration, and of the separation between the ocean and the clouds when
    the atmosphere cleared, after its temperature fell below the dew point,
    generating the global water cycle. My comments were as follows (<< to

    << Of course, in the final phase of the process of the accretion of the
    earth from planetesimals 4.55 Ga (billion years) ago, much of it
    probably was molten, at least its surface, with a temperature very far
    above the boiling point of water. There certainly was a melting 50 Ma
    (million years) later, when the moon was formed by a huge impact.
    Sometime before that event, the material of the earth separated into an
    iron-nickel core and a siliceous mantle, because the material ejected by
    the impact and forming the ring (out of which the moon accreted) had a
    composition like the mantle and unlike the entire earth. This
    differentiation need not imply a completely molten earth at that time
    since molten metal may have slowly percolated a semi-liquid mantle. But
    in any case, a liquid ocean was not yet possible. Water probably could
    be present in mineral-bound form inside the earth and in a vapor phase
    above the earth. Some of the water forming the later ocean probably was
    collected from impacting comets.

    Some very old sedimentary rocks have been found on earth (4.2 Ga, if I
    remember correctly). Sedimentary material must have been eroded from a
    continent and washed into an ocean. This implies that an ocean condensed
    out of the vapor phase perhaps as early as 100 Ma after the formation of
    the moon.

    Of course, Genesis 1 does not give us the whole story, just a few
    glimpses of what happened now and then. The formation of stars, sun,
    earth, moon is dealt with in verse 1. The "deep" of v. 2 probably
    denotes the first ocean after its condensation, and certainly this
    applies to the "waters" at the end of v. 2. >>
    (a cloud cover over a global ocean preventing light penetration:)

    << I think this is not known, especially since the composition of the
    atmosphere at that time is still controversial. It probably consisted
    mostly of CO2, N2, CO and water, with some CH4, NH3, SH2, and probably
    traces of more oxydized species like NO, SO2, O2, etc. And how much fine
    dust was there in the atmosphere? It is believed that the impact at the
    Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary 65 Ma ago was followed by a certain time of
    complete darkness, due to fines from the material ejected by the
    impactor, as well as from a legion of volcanic eruptions induced by it.
    I suspect that it was completely dark at some times after the
    condensation of the first ocean, especially when the atmosphere was
    still hot enough to be above the dew point, such that there was a thick
    cloud cover beginning directly at the surface of the water already

    But I'm not a specialist. Probably a geologist or early-earth specialist
    can give you more reliable answers to your questions. You might try
    Stephen Moshier <>.

    At what stage can we say "there was light" or "there became light" (Gen.
    1:3; the Hebrew does not distinguish between "was" and "became")? Of
    course, the point of reference is on the surface of the earth, cf. v. 2.
    There is no indication of an act of creation in this context; thus we'd
    better assume a development taking some unspecified amount of time (God
    doing it through some "natural" means). >>
    (oceans and clouds were separated when the atmosphere cleared, after its
    temperature fell below the dew point, generating the global water

    << With a boiling ocean, there is, of course, an extensive exchange of
    water between the liquid and the gas phase. But I wouldn't call this a
    real water cycle, as there was not much obvious regularity and order in
    it. But when the temperature falls below the boiling point of the ocean,
    you get a separation between its surface and a real cloud cover, as well
    as atmospheric circulations, rain etc. This is a real water cycle. I
    don't see what else could happen when the earth cools. >>

    As the heavy bombardment of the early earth by planetesimals ceased only
    very shortly before life arose, I think it is very unlikely that there
    ever was a dry, cold earth enlightened by the sun, as Paul Seely seems
    to conceive of. But please, John and Stephen, or other specialists,
    would you like to comment?
    (Paul Seely:)
    > >Hebrew does not say birds fly _in_ the firmament, but _in front of_ the
    > >firmament. What is _in_ (in the sense of within the confines of) the
    > >firmament is the sun, moon and stars (Gen 1:17); but the waters are _above_
    > >the firmament (same prepositional phrase with the same object) as in Ezek
    > >1:25 to describe the location of a voice above a firmament, and that voice is
    > >clearly from a person on a throne which is literally above, over, on top of
    > >the firmament, not in it in any sense. The biblical description of a solid
    > >firmament with an ocean above it and the sun, moon and stars under it is
    > >exactly the cosmology of the ancient Babylonians, albeit they sometimes have
    > >more than one solid firmament.

    In A. Held & P. Ruest, "Taking Genesis as Inspired", PSCF 52/3 (Sep
    2000), 212, (and referring back to our "Genesis Reconsidered", PSCF 51/4
    (Dec 1999), 231), we wrote:

    << The same preposition _'al_, which usually means "on" or "above", is
    the subject of Seely's next concern, his belief that the ancients
    believed in a solid dome as a firmament above the earth. His argument
    that _raquia'_, which he translates as "firmament", rather than
    "expanse", and all of its cognate words _always_ refer to objects which
    have solidity is not compelling, as we indicated in our endnote 34
    [previous paper]. We don't quarrel with his idea that the preposition
    _'al_ in Gen.1:20 _can_ mean "in front of", and we agree that the text
    adds _pnee_, "face", before _raquia'_. But although _pnee_, when used
    without _'al_, can mean "before", "in front of", the prepositional
    phrase _'al-pnee_ means "over", "on", "in", or "over against", rather
    than "in front of". But even this translation of _'al-pnee_ would not
    indicate a solid firmament, "in front of" which the birds fly. The
    sunlit atmosphere looks to us like a blue backdrop, "in front of" which
    we see birds flying. No matter whether they fly "on", "over", "above",
    or "in front of" the "expanse" or atmosphere, there is nothing in the
    expression to suggest a solid dome _under_ which they would fly. By
    substituting "surface" for "face", in order to yield "on the surface of
    the firmament", Seely is similarly unsuccessful, as this would make the
    birds fly _above_ the solid dome, making nonsense of the statement. >>
    In "Genesis Reconsidered", we had written:

    << On day 4, celestial bodies were not created, but became visible as
    "lights". Their origin goes back to the cosmological development
    initiated "in the beginning". Here, the earth is in focus; "sun" or
    "moon" are not named.

    Previously, light of celestial bodies had reached the earth's surface
    only in scattered form, such as on an overcast day. The text does not
    say that bodies were "affixed to the firmament", but that God "gave" the
    lights (the light rays, _not_ their sources) "into the _raqia^_ of the
    skies", the region which previously could not be reached by direct
    light. Now changed atmospheric conditions caused the previously
    permanent cloud cover to break open, so that for the first time the
    celestial bodies appeared as "lights in the sky". Over some time, the
    lights were being "prepared" [_^asah_], coming through hazily first,
    more clearly later. Literally, God said "Let it be (singular): lights
    (plural)!" The single process of the atmospheric change caused the
    appearance of a multitude of lights. They were to provide space and time
    indications required by many organisms. >>

     (Dick Fischer:)
    > If the Hebrews thought the firmament was solid while we know it is not, or
    > if they thought the earth was flat while we know it to be round, or if they
    > thought the sun rises in the East and sets in the West while we know the
    > earth revolves on its axis creating the illusion, or any thing else they
    > thought out of scientific ignorance, does that give us license to say the
    > Genesis narrative is factually incorrect, or historically flawed?
    > We know far more about the sun, earth, moon, stars, firmament, and
    > everything else, than they did. I don't think that changes anything. If
    > they thought the moon was made out of cream cheese it would only impact the
    > credibility of Scripture negatively if it was so stated. A "solid
    > firmament" or a "flat earth," or a "cream-cheese moon," if so stated, would
    > be wrong. But a firmament they thought was solid where we know it to be
    > otherwise should make no difference, in my estimation. That said though, I
    > really can't believe they were that stupid.

    I fully agree.


    Dr Peter Ruest, <>
    CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
    Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
    Creative providence in biology (Gen.2:3):
    "..the work which God created (in order) to (actively) evolve it"

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